Matthew Figgie and Rick Solon: Most Valuable Assets Featured

8:00pm EDT August 31, 2012
Matthew Figgie and Rick Solon: Most Valuable Assets

Employees are a company’s greatest asset. They are the driving force behind creating new ideas, developing products and cultivating a work environment that is both profitable and enjoyable. Yet, one of the greatest challenges a company will face is hiring and retaining the right people.

Every organization wants to hire the right employee every time. A high success rate happens only when you have a workplace culture that attracts the attention of the best candidates. The key to attracting and retaining the best employees is to create an attractive but competitive compensation package, combined with a flexible, challenging work environment, opportunities for empowerment and recognition.

As difficult as it is to attract the right talent, retaining them is even more challenging because, if you’ve done the hiring job well, you have hired people with great skills, experience, aspirations and motivation. Other employers will want them too. Studies show that almost one-third of employees who have been in their current job for less than six months are already searching. So, what can you do to get the best people and keep them on the team and fully engaged?

At Clark-Reliance, we have worked tirelessly to address these issues. Our efforts have been refined over the years, and they have clearly worked — some 38 employees (18 percent of the workforce) have been with our company for more than 20 years, and 138 employees (64 percent) have been with us for at least five years. We have an annual service awards banquet to thank employees for their service to our company.

We have learned to focus on the elements that are both satisfying and motivating to our employees. These areas of focus include benefits, training, incentives, challenges and opportunities to grow. While compensation is important, it is not the sole motivator. Employees want challenges, recognition, empowerment and rewards.

Based on our experience, the following advice will help your company attract and retain your most treasured asset.

Create a culture your employees enjoy and can thrive in. A company with a well-defined strategic purpose and a clear set of business objectives, philosophies, etc., will attract, support and motivate good employees who will know what is expected of them and how to achieve their goals. At Clark-Reliance, not only do we emphasize the importance of getting the work done, we are clear on how to get the work done properly while supplying the tools to allow for success.

Be flexible. Provide a flexible work environment that allows for a healthy work/life balance. Today’s workforce is looking for flexibility on the job and balance in their life.

Give attractive benefits. Health care is one of the biggest concerns for workers today and a good health plan with a family option will be attractive to most workers. We started a “life coaching” program that helps employees set and achieve personal and professional aspirations, including health and wellness goals.

Offer training opportunities. Employees value the opportunity for personal and professional development. At Clark-Reliance, we pay for training classes, undergraduate and graduate courses, online courses, in-house training, and external seminars and conferences.

Recognize good work. Nothing motivates more than positive recognition for one’s achievements and contributions. Recognition can be given in a number of ways: e-boards with names, newsletters and special events such as employee luncheons, doughnut days, an ice cream truck on hot summer days and by our ACE award ,which is our employee recognition program.

Make work fun and rewarding: Find things that motivate your employees and help them bond with other employees. These opportunities include bowling leagues, fishing charters, outings at sporting events, etc. Clark-Reliance has an annual Halloween party for employees, a complete Thanksgiving dinner is distributed to all families, a full course Christmas luncheon and a family day at Cedar Point.

Establish a goal outside of work: Finding a charity or project to work on outside of work can enhance team building. Also, employees like to work for a company that has a “soul.”

Creating an attractive work environment, being transparent, approachable, respectful and supportive creates a place where the best employees want to work. It has valuable long-term reputational benefits as well as a significant day-to-day impact on work quality, safety and financial performance. The best people do indeed make the best employees and the best companies.

Matthew P. Figgie is chairman of Clark-Reliance, a global, multidivisional manufacturing company with sales in more than 80 countries, serving the power generation petroleum, refining and chemical processing industries. He is also chairman of Figgie Capital and the Figgie Foundation.

Rick Solon is president and CEO of Clark-Reliance and has more than 35 years of experience in manufacturing and operating companies.